Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

So, the ‘iconic’ (obligatory adjective) Sydney Opera House is our biggest billboard, so sayeth PM Scott Morrison aka ScoMo, endorsing NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s approval of advertising on the famous roof sails of this UNESCO Heritage-listed building, to promote a horse-racing event. 

It’s a quintessential Sydney story, where Shock Jock Supremo Jones pulls the strings on Our Gladys, and we then learn that his business partners have nags running in the race – a redolent whiff of his ‘cash for comment’ era. 

I’m not sure that’s what UNESCO had in mind, but maybe it’s the epitome of OzCulture for crass gambling promotion to prevail over aesthetic considerations in a display of rampant philistinism (a word to put back into common usage). To cap it off, ingenuous ScoMo doesn’t get what all the fuss is about. I believe him.

The Pentecostal PM evinces a daggy soccer dad image, and as self-styled marketing guru who in a previous gig at the Australian Tourist Commission oversaw the cringeworthy ‘where the bloody hell are you’ advertising campaign, he has a track record as Chief Philistine. And is Our Glad channelling Edna Everage?

The horse racing event is called The Everest, so how the image of that word on the Opera House will promote tourism here is a mystery only explained by bluster and bullshit. And make no mistake, the Sport of Kings is for gambling, and certainly not for the benefit of exercising the poor nags and jockeys.

Cultural cringe at being Australian is the only response to this travesty, at least amongst us elitists, but it’s not a comfortable feeling. Optimists thought we had left fundamental philistinism behind us in the maligned 1950s, but it’s in our DNA!

ducks in a row

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Despite colonial Van Demonian (oh yeah!) attempts to exterminate its aborigines in the 1820-30s, it seems that the extant Tasmanian aboriginal population is growing abnormally well. In the latest census Tassie’s resident population comprises 5.5% Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders, compared to 3.3% nationally.

The data collection is through self-identification, with the latest figure up from 4.7% in the previous census, which prompts speculation. Perhaps ‘stolen generation’ cultural renewal is encouraging people to reclaim their previously suppressed aboriginal heritage. Maybe more aboriginal people are moving across Bass Strait, and/or ‘natural increase’ is occurring?

Aboriginal Land Council estimates around 20,000 aborigines in Tasmania, so Chairman Michael Mansell reckons the census figure of 28,537 is too high. Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre CEO Heather Sculthorpe says aboriginal numbers were reduced to a few hundred after the Black Wars and could not have grown through natural increase and immigration (from the mainland) to be the highest proportion in Australia.

So, something is going on in Tasmanian minds when they increasingly self-identify as aboriginal. Mansell says that some might be ‘mistaken’ and others ‘opportunistic’. But I reckon it’s much more positive than that: perhaps being aboriginal is the new cool, hip trend and Tasmanians are at the pioneering cutting edge, out on the fringe, so to speak.  Dare I say, the new black?

Imagine if more of us claim aboriginal heritage and we go way past apologies and reconciliation into a new nirvana of collective pride in our ancient land’s earliest culture. We latecomers could then be assigned honorary belonging to ‘country’ somewhere, maybe learn some local language and take care of that country?

* Thanks to Anne Mather (The Mercury, 09 Sept 2018) for her report and interviews, which prompted this reflection. Inflection?

fullsizeoutput_842

Read Full Post »

Vale Miss Breville!

Today is sad, as my humble and loyal hairdresser has passed away. She had trimmed my golden locks every coupla weeks for the last eighteen years, without stress or fuss. No appointment at her salon, just walk right in and take a seat. And no annoying prattle about the weather, shopping trends or her late husbands…..just the sound of her motor!

Yes, Ms Breville (Maxum model) was purchased in the year 2000 A.D., probably from a purveyor of household-electricals, B Lee or H Norman – the memory has faded and the receipt is long gone. Ms B was a basic hair clipper with cutting attachments, comb and scissors, all neatly packed in her zip bag, and wire & plug (no batteries).

She had just completed my usual no.1 cut, tidying up scruffy body hair, when she gave a few short coughs (and stop/starts), which had never happened before. So I took off the cutting blades, cleaned her head and switched her back on, but she coughed again and then stopped (accompanied by a burning smell). For good, meaning eternally – she had passed on, karked it.

Just as modestly as she had taken care of my hirsute noggin all these years, without complaint, she had finished her last assignment to the last hair before taking her last breath! What an inspiration, a lifetime of selfless service, of truly Anzackian dimensions. 

Although of agnostic persuasion Ms B’s spirit will no doubt be recycled as her body is laid to rest on council E-waste day coming up soon.

Vale Ms B, dear Maxum, old friend, may your recycled bits be of service to another lucky human bean in your reincarnated new life. Bless you!

IMG_0936

Read Full Post »

Tim Cope is an Australian adventurer who made a remarkable solo trip by horseback from Mongolia to Hungary over a three year period from 2004. His book ‘On the Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads’ is a fascinating record and tale of high adventure, replete with maps and photographs.

Cope’s story of survival on the remote fringes of the Eurasian Steppes and ex-Soviet Union, with his loyal horses and dogs, is well told. They suffer extreme temperatures, dry marginal landscapes and encounters with rough locals. And are welcomed and embraced by traditional hospitality, which saves his life often.

The expedition is truncated by Tim’s return to Australia and elsewhere for various reasons, and we share his life story over those years, with some romantic interludes and companions.

I found it all engrossing, and closely followed the expedition’s detailed movements over the maps provided. His insights into the histories of those frontier territories, and the thread of nomad traditions that runs for thousands of kilometres, is fascinating. A great read!

Mongolian steppe

Read Full Post »

Enzed is a great little country, full of civic-minded folk. By the way, little is good. It’s a pity they decided not to join the new Commonwealth of Australia in the day, as it may have toned down that rapacious Oz mentality. Sir Robert Muldoon’s famous quote that Kiwis leaving for Australia raised the IQs of both countries, is a favourite of mine.

Media coverage of NZ election night on Saturday exemplified some admirable qualities in our Tasman cousins. Labour leader Jacinda Ardern was shown sitting at home with her mum on the couch watching developments on TV. I couldn’t see whether she had her possum ugg boots on though. Her telegenic partner Clarke Gayford had probably gone fishing.

Outgoing PM Bill English rounded up a few more family members in front of TV in a public place at least. However, no hotel ballroom with thousands of supporters working themselves into mass hysteria for our sensible, modest, down-to-earth war buddies (remember the NZ in Anzac).

The Kiwi proportional representation voting system is more democratic and often involves negotiation with other parties to form government, as in Germany. And so to another election vignette. Veteran ‘kingmaker’ Winston Peters, who dislikes that descriptor, said he would consult his NZ First party members about which side of politics to join in government. Apparently no pre-determined plan and no hurry, or is that just Wily Winston?

The Maori Party looks like losing it’s seven seats to Labor. On a TV panel show veteran NZ Nationals ex-leader Don Brash said that the Maori party should disappear and even questioned Maoridom! Although fellow panelists were shocked they remained civil: a hallmark of NZ society. That wouldn’t happen on the other side of The Pond.

Imagine PM Jacinda meeting Canada’s PM Justin (such gen Y and X names) and joining him in taking over the reins of power from dreaded baby boomers. Add in Emmanuel, and it could be a trend, though 93 year old Zimbabwean Robert Mugabe is bucking it as he apparently lines up for another term!

fullsizeoutput_489

fullsizeoutput_488

Read Full Post »

Readers are astonished by KC’s exclusive revelations about the Federal government’s bogus $122m postal survey on ‘marriage equality’. Okay, one of you wanted to know what would do the job better and far cheaper.

I’lll recap, using survey language. A voluntary survey is necessarily biassed and unrepresentative of the population. It will most likely produce invalid, unreliable results with very low levels of confidence. A properly-designed survey constructs a representative sample based on demographic information.

Recently Fairfax commissioned an Ipsos phone poll on ‘marriage equality’ of 1400 respondents, which produced 70% YES, 26% NO and 4% don’t know/undecided. With an error margin of 2.6% that’s a clear affirmative result. Better job done for a fraction of the cost!

As noted previously your faithful scribe was a corporate marketing research manager in another life, whose job was to commission all kinds of surveys. That Ipsos job could not have cost more than $50K, so do the math as they say. It’s a massive and disgraceful waste of taxpayer money!

What’s worse is that it gives the illusion of ‘voting’, and some commentators are even referring to a ballot, both of which are incorrect; or slipping back to ‘plebiscite’, which it’s definitely not. As we know, there is nothing binding about this survey, and pollies still have to get their hands dirty, in their newly-fenced parliament.

Wasting money

Read Full Post »

Mea culpa: Professor George Williams, Dean of Law at UNSW, and KC’s legal affairs correspondent got it wrong. The High Court decided that our Federal Government could indeed pretend that having a dodgy postal survey on ‘marriage equality’ (the quotes are restored!) is an emergency. Hence it can proceed to waste $122m of taxpayer’s money.

Putting aside this sideshow, it seems that yes vs no is the only game in town. Nobody is challenging the idea of the institution of marriage as the new holy grail (so to speak!) for gay couples. In other words, having lived outside state-sanctioned domestic bliss for decades and fought for larger freedoms, why clamour for the same bourgeois recognition? I wonder if feminists aspire to this traditional symbol of historical subjugation.

Today Dr Caroline Norma presented (in Sydney Morning Herald) a compelling anti-marriage argument as an answer, which is below:

“The same-sex marriage campaign makes me wonder when my fellow Australian lesbians lost their political backbone? Where’s the sparky radicalism of the gay and lesbian community? When did chasing after marriage become our life’s work? Or for that matter any feminists’ work?

Our heterosexual sisters must be wondering why we’re so keen to dignify an institution – which for so many women has led to violence from their partners and drudgery for themselves. They surely notice the hypocrisy; lesbians becoming cheerleaders for an institution which has caused so many so much pain.

We get the “gold rings and honeymoon” appeal of marriage; but I feel embarrassed for our collective selves that the public now sees us as grovelling for the chance to wear white wedding dresses. How are women going to recognise lesbianism as an alternative to heterosexuality, if they don’t see us protesting against institutions that have been harmful to us: like marriage, prostitution and the nuclear family?

The “yes” campaign’s slogan “love is love” equates marriage with love when many married women experience it as anything but love. The slogan trivialises the heroic efforts of some who have had to escape the institution.

The “yes” campaign casts rainbows and throws glitter over an institution that many women and children struggle to survive. It romanticises a pre-modern social arrangement that secures most men a wife and all the perks that come with husbandhood: sexual servicing, household labour and public esteem disguising all manner of wrongdoing. It peddles pro-marriage propaganda that lesbians, of all people, should not support. We should remember why we became lesbians in the first place, and reflect on our own heroic efforts to evade the social role fixed for females worldwide. Marriage is a conservative institution developed in order to organise the servitude of women. For many women it remains so.

Women see state sponsorship of sexual relationships as a safeguard of their interests in children and property held in common with men. But this guarantee is a mirage. The frequent experience of mothers losing custody of children to sexually abusive former husbands, for example, now sees Rosie Batty and Hetty Johnston campaigning for a royal commission into family violence.

Israeli parliamentarian and women’s rights’ campaigner Merav Michaeli is in Australia advocating for the “cancellation” of marriage (including the same-sex kind) because of the lifetime of unpaid labour and unequal wages she feels the institution forces upon wives, which usually involved a contract between two men – a husband and a father – over the rights of a woman. Similarly, University of Cambridge philosopher Clare Chambers in her recently published ‘Against Marriage: An Egalitarian Defence of the Marriage-Free State’ advocates the abolition of marriage because, even if the “most egregious aspects of legal inequality in marriage no longer apply in liberal democratic states”, still “marriage remains an institution of inequality'” It’s a Victorian middle-class invention she says – usually not in favour of the wife.

In Australia, marriage equality campaigning rages, while on TV farmers and bachelors are being offered their pick of wives from parades of immaculately presented young women. The wedding industry booms here, and women abandoning their surnames upon marriage continues unabated. In this conservative climate, there is every temptation for lesbians to assimilate. But now, more than ever, we must vote no in the postal plebiscite to register our protest at marriage; it’s hurt us for too long”.

Final thought bubble: to continue a feminist perspective, I also wonder whether gay men are more motivated by traditional ‘male’ values to get married, than lesbians, who come from that historically subjugated half of the marriage dyad? Just saying!

* Thanks to Caroline Norma & SMH for permission to reproduce her article.

gay marriage

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: